Paris Fashion Week: Day 4 Review
From high octane to a soft summer morning, day four sees designers divided by contrast.
1 | Dior Homme
Creative director: Kris Van Assche
It was a spiraling, twisting, miniature roller-coaster of metal tracks fitted with multicoloured lights that greeted us at the Tennis Club, venue of the S/S17 Dior Homme show. Spectacular, but perhaps too much so, as it distracted a tad from the models who zipped through the set like speedsters on a fixed course. Fortunately, there is always the re-see, which enabled insight to the construction and details of individual pieces. So while the show served to establish the intent and energy of the Dior Homme man for S/S17, which had maintained a continuity with the previous skater-inspired collection (racking up the same red, white and black palette from A/W16), the showroom was a chance to catch up on the details.
One of the more arresting visual elements off the runway was the ring harness, worn over suiting and skin-coloured tunics, punching up the punk element. The laced bomber with its loose ends swinging to the model’s walk and the hand-stitched patchwork on denim, which combined two layers of denim with thousands of stitches, made forward statements. A collaboration with Japanese artist Toru Kamei resulted in a surreal skull and floral print that found its way on jacquards and suiting. Noteworthy too was the method in which Kris Van Assche had a template of the artist’s work stitched on the back of a jacket in beige thread and then printed over it with the same print in colour, creating a trompe l’oeil of singular beauty.
And it was at the showroom that we learnt how much tailoring savoir-faire had gone into the construction of some of the key pieces. The laced bomber required 40 metres of lacing and 1,000 eyelets, all of which were hand-punched and fixed, with the laces woven through the material by hand. Each finished piece was the culmination of at least two day’s work. Close-up, a sports coat revealed panelled patterns seamlessly created using different materials, including a fabric made by applying rubber to the surface of the material, one that was also introduced for a range of accessories and bags. It’s interesting also to observe how Dior Homme has cut down significantly on the production of its commercial line, and is now focused on the runway collection it sends out each season.
Must have: The structured olive green trench, a perennial classic with the perfect cut.
2 | Hermès
Designer: Véronique Nichanian.
Véronique Nichanian, the dark-haired menswear designer for Hermès, prefers her men to wear their clothes, not the other way round. What this translates to, is a collection of classic silhouettes rendered in the most effortless way, using the best materials available. The fabric, which include linen, cashmere, fine cotton and of course, the famous Hermès silk, defined the luxury of the collection and was treated with utmost respect.
Under Nichanian’s direction, the Hermès artisans were challenged into creating innovative ways of working with the same material, giving rise to an introspective element in the collection as individual pieces became exquisite examples of artisanal dexterity. A series of tie-dye jackets and knits for example, was one such display of the craftman’s skill, especially with the consistency with which they were rendered over a phalanx of materials such as vintage silk twill and goatskin. Trousers were beautifully tapered and cut narrow to give a leaner shape and were finished with leather detail, whilst the elegance of attire at Hermès translated into softly layered blousons and cardigans and in one instance, a riding coat in baobab crepe cotton with lambskin pockets.
Nichanian knows her clientele well, men who prefer a showcase of quiet luxury, with the occasional stunner thrown in. Where else but at the house of Hermès would the finest natural materials be worked with such innovative finesse, giving rise to exemplars such as crepe cotton with stippled checks, métis lambskin with inlaid jersey and tie-dyed goatskin.
Must have: The indigo tie-dyed goatskin blouson jacket. Beautifully constructed and the ideal sartorial companion for a weekend away.
3 | AMI
Designer: Alexandre Mattiussi
Incredible what can be achieved with a simple set-up done right. The AMI runway show held at the Grand Palais required a climb up a spiral staircase before emerging into a long, sunlit white hall. Wooden floor-to-ceiling slatted frames lined one side while a white gauze curtain, angled spotlight and a metal fan whirring industriously behind to billow out the soft cloth. Morning? Dusk? Perhaps a new day, because the collection had a definite fresh appeal to it. From easy, lived-in pieces with a certain loucheness and jackets that looked like they had been slept in to the somnambulistic softness of trousers and reworked Pajama stripes and long casual day coats and white sneakers, all elements came together to form what is, by now, an AMI signature.
Floral print short-sleeved shirts worn open-necked over tanks, pleated roomy trousers and a collegiate V-neck worn under a navy suit. The shapes were simple but elegant and infinitely wearable—something Mattiussi does exceedingly well. The individual pieces had all the desirability of a soft summer morning, which, combined with the casual elegance that the French do so well, makes for a collection that nestles in the sweet-spot between a definitive design direction and commercial success.
Must have: A pair of the generously cut trousers yet exquisitely proportioned trousers. If you are looking to ditch the skinny jeans trend then get on this. Oh, and a pair of those sweet white AMI sneaks.